Though not without charm, the Soviet Bloc cars that found their way to Cuba cannot match the appeal – to me, at least – of the trucks supplied to the island by Russia and its allies. Like Soyuz spacecraft, they seem to have been designed from drawings in Popular Mechanics and assembled from odd parts discovered in the back rooms of hardware stores. Here are a few I’ve come across.
I believe this GAZ, converted into a bus, is the 52 model built between 1966 and 1978. “That’s a Russian truck,” said a young man waiting to board it. “But do you know what we call it? Bullshit!” Must have been a political comment, because I thought this product of Gorky Automobile Plant, freshly finished in rich turquoise, was quite smart-looking.
The ZIL 130 is ubiquitous in Cuba, but then, it’s a common sight still in many countries. Introduced in 1964, the 130 was still being assembled three decades later, with production estimated at 3.4 million. Flatbeds and dump trucks were popular configurations. This farm truck version was out of service, though probably not indefinitely.
Just as the ZIL has an International influence, there’s a bit of a Bronco thing going on with this ARO Series 24 from now-defunct Auto Romania. The series 24 arrived on the four-by-four scene in 1972; round headlamps could mean this is an early example. It was sold in various configurations, including a special, wagon version for dictator Nicolae Ceausecu. I thought this 24’s tall rear compartment was an add-on, but nope, it came that way.